Cath Tyldesley - Rise

Buy Rise here (Amazon UK)

Ever since Cath Tyldesley duetted with Shayne Ward on last year's ITV ABBA special, I've been hankering after a full album of music from the talented singer-actress. Her debut album, Rise, does not disappoint - in fact it surpasses expectation thanks to a glorious melting pot of genres, styles and tempos that keep the listener engaged from the effusive first track right through to the heartbreaking conclusion. It is also quite refreshing that, in an era where artists pad out albums with bonus tracks, store specific exclusive songs and teaser singles, Cath has gone for a cohesive ten track album that focuses on quality of melody, production and singing. While this is actually a more traditional approach, it accentuates the fact that the songs contained within are designed to stand the test of time. Timely and timeless, Cath is an engaging singer who knows how to command the music she sings.

The album opens with the title track, Rise. It is a bold and striking opening number that presents Ms Tyldesley as an evocative, seductive jazz chanteuse - someone as comfortable in a 1950s cabaret club as she would be holding court in an intimate gay bar in Gran Canaria. Intricate piano, sumptuous horns, textured backing vocals and a finger clicking groove provide a backdrop for Cath's story of believing in yourself and ignoring the negativity in the world. She's a dynamic performer throughout yet during the irrepressible chorus, she is the leader of an army - as she espouses a rallying call to arms that lifts your spirits and sends a dopamine blast to the brain of epic proportions. You'll be singing and shimmying along long after the song has finished. There's no time to catch your breath, however, as she seamlessly slides into an intoxicating version of Gloria Estefan's Rhythm Is Gonna Get You. This interpretation is a stirring melange of the Salsa rhythms of the original mixed with Cuban live-band vibe that adds an aura of spicy majesty to the song. It feels like it belongs in a modern day Dirty Dancing movie with Cath imbuing each syllable she sings with a tempting allure that is all too hard to resist. Her singing cascades amidst the wall of sound like sparkling glitter working with the music to send the song soaring skywards. She knows how to entice you on the dancefloor, although the next song, Close To You, proves she can provide the quiet, intimate moments too. The Carpenters classic is given a lovely, languorous makeover with an enthralling guitar riff that juxtaposes the mellifluous, meandering piano playing - both coalescing to craft a soothing, laid back vibe that enhances the narrative of being so head over heels in love. Cath sounds enchanting as she sings as though she cannot hold the feelings in any more. Her voice traverses the passages of time, a giddily smitten siren who entrances those lucky enough to catch her sonorous tones. It is quite difficult to bring something new to such an indelible classic and this succeeds beautifully.

As a massive fan of one Mr Shayne Ward, I was rather delighted that he joins Cath on the Oleta Adams standard, Get Here. Making this a duet gives the yearning lyrics a new perspective of a lovelorn couple. The piano is a little more delicate, the percussion a tad more subtle which means we get to focus on two sublime vocals that give an achingly poignant sense of longing and hope to the poetic words. It reminds the world of what a fine vocalist Shayne Ward is (his latest album Closer is an absolute gem) and hearing the two voices intertwine is a treat for the ears. In simpler times, this would have been a shoo-in for the Christmas number one - those days may be gone but it doesn't mean this track is any less magic. He's A Tramp ups the tempo again - and provides somewhat of a story; if the previous two songs were Cath falling in love, then this song may be the aftermath of a few bad dates! Cath sounds gleefully mischievous as she calls out her man. Her symbiotic relationship with the music continues to yield delicious fruits - here swathing her voice with scintillating beats and vibrant riffs. It is a testament to the production of the album and Cath's voice that she can switch styles and genres so easily while still leading a fascinating narrative - as proved with the segue into All Woman. True story - my mum loves music. When I was growing up, she was more savvy about the charts than I was (and I was obsessed). And she would play songs in the car and always give them a little story or moral tale. With All Woman, she taught my brothers and sisters that it is never OK to make someone feel less than wonderful, that looks and silence can be as cutting as harsh words and taunts. She told us that the pain you could hear in Lisa Stansfield's voice is all too real and that is what people live with. It was a powerful message that stuck with me - and one I'm starkly reminded of with Cath's poignant reading of the song. There's a quiet power and determination in her voice that speaks more volume than belting out the track ever could - and it is stunning to behold. All lady, all woman on this song, Cath does it's heritage proud.

It may not have been the most obvious choice for the album but god bless whoever suggested Life In A Northern Town. The Dream Academy song may about depression and battling with mental health but it is gifted with a soaring refrain that Cath brings to life all over again with a stately dignity and grace. The backing vocalists are on fine form here and lift the song to soaring new heights, while the horn section contributes to the sense that, even when things are bad you should look to your dreams and believe you can achieve. Cath is like a painter, broad brush strokes on a canvas that turns the blank and empty into something positive and inspiring. So What is her shrugging off the cares of the world and getting her shimmy back on once more, reminding us that dancing and singing are an excellent way of working through emotions and a sure fire path to finding our own happy place. It is nigh on impossible not to be smiling by the time the song has ended. Cath is as mood-lifting here as any prescription pill from the NHS (and far more satisfying). She slows it down for pondering reflections for the last two songs of the album. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered takes everything the listener has fallen in love with across the album to date (expressive singing, jazz infused music) and takes us on a gentle tour through the hazy mist of burgeoning love. It is a tale as old as time but one that still sounds captivating coming from Cath. And as she turns to Baby Mine to close the album, it brings her musical tale full circle and leaves the listener wide eyed with wonder. In a world where technology often overrides talent, where fads are embraced even as they start to fade it is comforting to know that well constructed and exquisitely delivered music will always find a home - and be around for many memories yet to be soundtracked. This is just such an album and I'm smitten.
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